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White House Heritage volleyball players celebrate their 3-0 win over Springfield on Aug. 29, 2019.

Robertson County middle and high school sports teams can begin offseason practices, tryouts and workouts starting Monday, June 1.

Athletes have been barred from school facilities since spring sports were halted by the COVID-19 pandemic on March 16. The TSSAA officially canceled the state basketball tournaments and spring sports championships one month later.

Robertson County Athletics Director Pat Brown has given area coaches the green light to resume sports activities. However, social distancing and regular cleaning must be observed, athletes will be divided into small groups and parents are asked to keep their children away from school campuses if they are sick or have been around anyone who is sick.

“(Coaches) are working on plans right now for what that’s going to look like for them (individually),” Brown said. “We gave them some parameters. Some schools and teams may choose to wait, and some are going to go ahead and hold tryouts.”

East Robertson, Greenbrier, Springfield and White House Heritage have all announced tryout dates for various sports. Most will be held in the next two weeks, but others are slated for July.

The idea behind the small groups is to help with contact tracing in case any athlete gets sick. If that happens, the small group would be shut down until each participant could be tested. Athletes will remain with their small groups of 10-20 at all practices and workouts through the end of the month.

Brown said the plan is to use June to ease back into sports activities. The hope is that more restrictions can be lifted in July when football, soccer and volleyball teams normally start the intensive parts of their preseason schedules.

“I think it’s (about) being flexible,” he said. “We’ll have to watch the situation carefully. If it warrants it, we’ll have to shut down in June. If not and things get better, we may be able to ease up on some restrictions as we head into July.

“We want to make sure our athletes and coaches in Robertson County are safe. Hopefully we can position ourselves for a return to competitive athletics in the fall.”

Teams must continue to follow the TSSAA calendar for their sport. The annual dead period, when coaches cannot have any contact with players, will remain as scheduled June 22-July 5. 

The coronavirus has not been as rampant in Robertson County as it has in some surrounding counties. While Robertson had 449 cases and three deaths as of Friday afternoon, neighboring Davidson County (4,968 cases, 59 deaths) and Sumner County (858 cases, 45 deaths) have experienced larger outbreaks. Montgomery County has seen 262 cases and three deaths.

The TSSAA chose to leave resumption decisions up to the individual school districts in part because of the discrepancies in how the virus has affected various parts of the state. Select counties in Tennessee have already resumed workouts, but hard-hit areas may be weeks away from doing so.

While Brown said a uniform start date would have created a more level playing field, he appreciates the TSSAA for allowing districts to make local decisions.

“I understand it’s a very unprecedented time right now,” Brown said. “We don’t have a pandemic playbook that we can pull out for athletics. I respect the fact that (the TSSAA) is trying to allow counties that maybe aren’t as affected as some of the larger areas to move forward.”

Resuming summer activities is just the first step toward the return of high school sports. It still isn’t clear exactly what school will look like this fall, but having students return to classrooms is likely a necessary precursor for games to be held.

“There are still a lot of question marks for a lot of people,” Brown said. “We’re all trying to get used to this. But we’re also concerned about getting school opened and academics started again in the fall.

“Those two work hand-in-hand. If you don’t have kids in school, I think it’d be hard to have games.”

Return to Athletics guidelines for students and parents:

Parent Responsibilities

• Please ensure child is healthy, check your child’s temperature prior to any training session.

• Limited or no carpooling is recommended.

• Parent or legal guardians must stay in car or return at designated time to pick up child.

• Ensure child’s clothing is washed after every training session.

• Please ensure all personal or borrowed equipment is sanitized before and after every training.

• Please notify school immediately if your child becomes ill for any reason.

• Be sure to encourage your child to wash their hands before and after every workout/practice.

• Label student’s personal water bottles, hand sanitizer and other personal protective equipment(mask).

Student Responsibilities

• Wash hands thoroughly before and after training or practice. Avoid touching your face.

• Do not touch or share anyone else’s equipment or personal items. Bring your own water.

• Practice social distancing, place bags and equipment at least 6 feet apart.

• Wash and sanitize all equipment before and after every training.

• No group celebrations, no high-fives, hugs, handshakes, etc.

COVID 19 Screening Questions

1. Have you been in close contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19 in the last 2 weeks?

2. Are you experiencing a cough, shortness of breath or sore throat?

3. Have you had a fever in the last 48 hours?

4. Have you had new loss of taste or smell?

5. Have you had vomiting or diarrhea in the last 24 hours?

*The above questions will be asked of each student before taking part in workouts and practices. Persons who answer YES to any of the questions or have a temperature of 100 or above will not be allowed to stay for workouts or practice.

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